Funday Sunday!

242184-Good-Morning-Sunday-Blessings-Give-Thanks

 

 

Prayer Changes Things1

Daily Prayer for October 14

Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants – but let them not turn to folly. Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. Psalm 85:8–9, NIV

Lord our God, you are help, comfort, and life to us in everything we have to endure. We gather before you as poor, weak people, but you can make us rich and give us new life so that our lives prove we hold to your will and to the justice you bring on earth. May we be one in spirit through all we experience in our hearts, to the glory of your name. May the praise and thanks of many people ring out into all the world because you are help and deliverance from all evil. Amen.

 

TODAY’S DAILY DIG

blueberry“Thy kingdom come.”This concerns something to be achieved, something not yet here. The kingdom of God means the complete filling of the entire soul of intelligent creatures with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit bloweth where he listeth? We can only invite him. We must not even try to invite him in a definite and special way to visit us or anyone else in particular, or even everybody in general; we must just invite him purely and simply, so that our thought of him is an invitation, a longing cry. It is as when one is in extreme thirst, ill with thirst; then one no longer thinks of the act of drinking in relation to oneself, nor even of the act of drinking in a general way. One merely thinks of water, actual water itself, but the image of water is like a cry from our whole being.

Source: Waiting for God

 

 

 

Verse of the Day

Inspirational illustration of Romans 12:2

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

Don’t be molded by the world. Wow, isn’t that a tough one to obey. It’s a reminder that what we think is one of the places of greatest spiritual warfare. Sloppy thinking is more than sloppy, it’s dangerous because we are fed messages constantly that distort God’s truth and holy values. But rather than being incensed by the world acting like the world, let’s be transformed by renewing our minds and doing what Paul said he did — take every thought, every word, captive for Christ. We often think a tithe is giving ten percent of our money, but an even more vital tithe is giving ten percent of our totally undivided thought time to the things of God!

My Prayer…

O Lord, please guard my soul from pride, my heart from callousness, and my mind from too much focus on unimportant things and not enough on your things. Teach me in my heart what it means to be about my Father’s business, especially in the world of my thoughts! In the name of Jesus, my greatest example of one who knew and lived your will, I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

What Is the Greatest Crisis
Facing America Today?
What Are We Going to Do About It?

 

[Editor’s Note: The dictionary defines “crisis” as “a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger.” Sometimes we employ phrases like “being at a crossroads” or “reaching a turning point” or “hitting ground zero.” Are there any crises in your life right now? How about in your church? How about in our nation? In this blog post, David Bryant begins to explore what he insists is the greatest challenge we face today—an emergency, a watershed—a deadly threat with far-reaching spiritual consequences for our country, for our congregations, and as well for each one of our lives. David believes one crucial crisis is at the root of our inability to handle every other crisis we face. See if you agree.]

 

Some crises can break a heart.

Some crises can stun a nation.

Some crises can alter the course of a whole generation.

We live in an age of crises.

I did not doubt this even a little as I stood near my home on a mountain crest called Washington Rock Park. In 1777, from this vantage point, George Washington monitored the movements of British troops in the New Jersey valley.

From this rock one can see the entire skyline of New York City just 20 miles away. On the evening of that eleventh day of September in 2001, what I saw brought to my mind the funeral pyres I’d witnessed along India’s Ganges River. Now I saw smoke that billowed to blanket New York City’s horizon from the steel tomb that TIME magazine called “The Twin Terrors.”

As a result, noted U.S. foreign policy scholar Walter Russell Mead predicted for TIME that he believes the entire 21st century will be remembered as the “Age of Apocalypse.” What he foresaw then is equally true nearly two decades later. He wrote:

People feel that the veil of normal, secular reality is lifting. We can see behind the scenes. We can see where God and the devil, good and evil are fighting to control the future. History is accelerating. Ancient prophecies are being fulfilled in real time.

However, there’s another crisis looming before us that, in the final analysis, outweighs all others. It too carries sobering, ominous biblical consequences. Moreover, this second “ground zero” is much more decisive as far as eternity is concerned.

Let me tell you about it.

 

Our Greatest Crisis in an Age of Crises

Here’s a shocker! This crisis of which I speak is not found, at least not first of all, among unbelievers. Instead, we find it to be most prevalent inside the Body of Christ.

It compromises ultimate issues touching the kingdom of God and its advance among the nations. More tragic still, it affects believers at their heart level. Similar to Mead’s warnings about homeland security, its persistence in our life together serves to temporarily sabotage our impact for Christ in the “Battle of the Ages”—a strategic mission in which every Christian is automatically engaged one way or another.

What should we call this grievous crisis in the lives of God’s people? A growing number of Christian leaders today define it as a “crisis of Christology.” More specifically, we might also call it “a crisis of supremacy”—because it relates directly to how God’s people envision (or fail to envision) what the supremacy of God’s Son truly involves.

It has everything to do with the degree to which Christians are embracing and pursuing God’s Son for who he is, where he’s headed, what he’s doing, and how he gets exalted—or rather, to what degree we are failing to do so.

This helps explain our frequent lack of passion for and heartfelt participation in the purposes of the Savior who is ascended on high and now seated on the throne of the universe—actively, daily filling the universe with his sovereign presence and his saving power (see the remarkable claims made of him in Ephesians 4:8-16, for example).

When the “crisis of supremacy” (of Christology) manifests itself inside any congregation, Christians become paralyzed. They are spiritually anemic due to the significant shortfall in how they trust in Jesus—in terms of his wonders as the Son of God as well as where he is leading in the purposes of God, the ways he is fulfilling the reign of God, and how he is magnifying the glory of God.

This disquieting discrepancy has blindsided far too many of us believers. It has subverted a host of us unsuspecting disciples, siphoning off the vitality in our worship, prayer, community life, and ministry outreach.

In so many cases, Christians are numbed to the awesome joy they could be experiencing in a daily, intimate walk with the world’s Redeemer.

Above all else that the crisis has done to God’s people, it has robbed God himself of his rightful praise from his people and from the gospel spread abroad by his people—the praise of the Father for which the Son rose and reigns.

Dr. Timothy George puts it succinctly:

The erosion of Christ-centered faith today threatens to undermine the identity of evangelical Christianity. Real revival and genuine reformation cannot be built on such flimsy foundations.

Does Not Have God

Think of it like this: If the Church offers to the nations in the gospel the only hope humankind has because we are fallen and living in a fallen world, and if the Church itself is in a spiritually debilitating crisis of its own, then the Church’s crisis becomes the greatest crisis facing the world as well.

I don’t think I’m stating it too dramatically to say that more terrifying than Muslim extremists on the path of Jihad or the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the world’s most precarious danger is actually manifested by how many believers, and therefore their churches, currently lack adequate vision for the Lord of glory. Every other crisis faced by the world impinges, directly or indirectly, on how Christians deal with this primary crisis—the crisis within our own ranks. This is the crisis John warned us about from the beginning:

Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue
in the teaching about the Christ
does not have God
(2 John, emphasis added).

Does not have God? Now that’s definitely a genuine crisis—the greatest crisis into which anyone could fall. And John is writing this to Christians!

In other words, Christians can come up short on how they view and value God’s Son—his greatness and glory and grace; his majesty, ministry, and supremacy. And when they do, they have lost their way in their whole relationship to God. Bottom line: They “do not have God.” Period! No exceptions!

Could anything be more debilitating for the global cause of Christ than when this verdict is laid at the feet of a single Christian, or a single congregation—let alone a whole generation of believers?

We’re talking about people who claim to belong to Jesus but then renege on living out before the world the realities of the name and claim and reign of the “King of kings.” Why? Because they do not really know him or share among themselves the full extent of the truths of who he is as “the Christ,” as the “Messiah,” which identifies him as the One exalted on high to bring to consummation all of the prophesies, promises, and purposes of the living God.

Again, John says this, not me: Only those who continue in (dwell on, delight in, enlarge on, grow in, walk in) God’s Word and exalt God’s Son as the saving Lord and enthroned Christ before others—those are the only ones who genuinely have God and therefore share in his life and power.

Otherwise, God is going in one direction—to ensure that in everything Jesus has the supremacy (Colossians 1:18)—while many of those who claim the name of Jesus are actually going in a very different direction.

 

Whom Do You Love? Whom Do You
Seek?

To be sure, this Christological shortfall isn’t merely a curse of modern times. The reality is, as 2 John illustrates, it was an issue from the beginning of the Christian movement. You could say it is as old as the day of Jesus’ resurrection.

Do you recall Mary Magdalene’s despair as she lingered before Jesus’ empty tomb? Weeping over the Master whom she thought had been reduced to a stolen corpse, Mary stood there trembling with fear, feeling confused and hopelessness.

Her personal “crisis of supremacy” sprang from her doubts about Jesus’ ability to demonstrate his promise to ultimately triumph over the grave.

Suddenly, Jesus himself—alive and well!—appeared before her, as he probed her heart by asking: “Who is it you are looking for?” (John 20).

Not why. Not where. Not what. But WHO.

Frankly, that’s the most important question we can set before anyone at any time! It might be stated in a variety of ways.

For example, on that same Easter morning other disciples, struggling with a similar despair, were approached at the tomb by angels challenging them: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen” (Luke 24). It was as if they were saying: “Do you really understand who it is you are seeking? If you did, why would you be searching here in a place of death?”

Surely, no more incisive inquiries confront the global Christian community in the 21st century than ones that reflect that first Easter encounter:

•  Who really is the Christ you love? Who really is the Christ you seek?

•  Do you know why and for what you are seeking him?

•  Do you know for sure how and where to find him?

Let Me Just Lay It All on the Table

How many Christians around you demonstrate that they live lives intentionallyfocused on, delighting in, and fervent for the fullness of Christ and the exaltation of his supremacy?” How many Christians in your congregation would you say need what we might call a proper re-introduction to the Lord Jesus Christ in terms of who he truly is right now—who he is, for example, as:

•  Sovereign Son of the Father, reigning at his right hand forever and ever

•  Triumphant Victor over every foe—sin, death, hades

•  Glorious Conqueror, the dominating personality for all ages to come

•  Unequivocal Commander of heaven’s hosts who are ready to obey his every word

•  Indisputable Judge of all peoples and nations to whom all must give an account

•  Undeniable Ruler of history, overseeing its path and its outcome from beginning to end

•  Incomparable King of an empire that will ultimately fill creation with his power and piety

•  Irreplaceable Head and Heart of a people whom he has bought with his own blood

•  Reigning Redeemer of the Church universal, militant, and triumphant

•  Supreme Lord of All right now just as fully as he will be Supreme Lord at the consummation

Back to the Original Question

This brings me back to my original question: Does the Church in America today—do we—have a crisis of Christology, a crisis of supremacy?

To say it another way: How many of us at this moment are victims of the chief “identity crisis”—our inherent confusion about Christ’s identity; our blindness to the extensive glory of the One we claim as our Sacrifice and Sovereign?

How many of us Jesus followers suffer spiritually due to insufficient exposure to the glorious riches and magnificent destiny that is ours because of who Christ is and because of who we are in union with him as our reigning Redeemer?

How many of us disciples are growing in our knowledge of the Master as the summation and consummation of God’s plan for the universe—and just as firmly for each one of us?

From my years of traveling far and wide among those of the evangelical movement, let me give you my paraphrase of the angelic announcement that shook the disciples on Resurrection Day:

Why are you seeking the Living One in all the wrong places?
Here’s great news: He’s so much more than you thought he was!
He’s risen. He’s Lord. He’s going ahead of you.
He’s the hope of all the victories to come!
Open your eyes to his true identity
(and find your own in the process).

 

What If We Don’t Care?

The Church’s “identity crisis” regarding Jesus dramatically surfaced shortly after the attacks of 9/11.

Initially, national polls revealed a groundswell of renewed interest in the gospel of Christ that fall. Attendance in churches rose significantly. In some places, the increase was as much as 50% in one month. People gathered to pray, sometimes filling entire stadiums. Sobered by predictions of more attacks to come, multitudes were attentive to Scripture like never before.

Yet, a year after Al-Qaeda’s fateful invasion, the long-term impact of 9/11 on the spiritual condition of Americans was, sadly to say, negligible. In fact, research revealed that church attendance declined to levels lower than they were before that September day. Far too often in the following years, seekers looking for answers felt themselves unwelcomed when they brought their shattered hearts to local congregations.

One pollster concluded that 95% of Americans had not been permanently affected for Christ at all. According to one survey, over half of our fellow citizens concluded just one year later that the message of Christ was less relevant in society than before 9/11.

Surprisingly, indifference and apathy about evangelism continued to mark most quarters of the Church. Giving to Christian charities, especially outreach ministries, dropped significantly. Divisiveness among churches only increased, until now in the second decade of the 21st century, according to many researchers, the Body of Christ has been politicized and sundered in ways we have never seen before.

As one biblical scholar put it, instead of the tragedy of 9/11 helping to spawn a culture-wide awakening to Christ, most Christians ended up just “reshuffling the deck chairs on what felt like a sinking ship.”

But this recent history of events and trends is only the tip of a perilous disability—the sobering reality of the “crisis of Christology” that 9/11 unmasked so startlingly.

Years later we’re still plagued by the same seeming indifference about how Christians see, savor, and speak about God’s Son for all he is in his spectacular supremacy.

Do we still have a crisis of Christology, a crisis of supremacy, today? Yes, we do! We must not shrug it off or simply run from it. We need to confront and cure it. A thorough, gospel-driven spiritual revolution of our whole nation depends on what we do with this one overriding concern.

We must once and for all bring this crisis into the light and lay it before all of God’s people. We must start getting honest with each other about the ambivalences we as disciples struggle with (usually privately) regarding who we think Jesus really is. We must admit we are spiritually lazy and that we care far too little—our passion is far too faint—when it comes to diligently and intentionally working to discover more about how great and glorious Jesus really is reigning over us, dwelling among us, and working through us.

This is one facet of what the Bible calls “repentance.” And repent we must!

Out of such repentance, let’s agree to start talking together a whole lot more about the fundamental questions of our very existence, such as: Who is this Jesus we belong to? Why must we seek him more and seek more of him? How and wheredo we expect to find more of him? What do we expect to happen to us as we find and experience more of him?

 

Freed From the Crisis!
Fully Alive to the Christ!

There’s urgency to our emergency! The hour has come for the Body of Christ in America to wake up fully to supremacy of Christ over America.

Everything precious to us and our churches is at stake based on whether we do wake up or not. The outward advance of Christ’s mission in our nation and in this generation is on the line.

Pastor, author, and theologian Dr. John Piper calls us as believers to share together a new view of life from now on:

Since September 11, 2001, I have seen more clearly than ever how essential it is to exalt explicitly in the excellence of Christ, crucified for sinners and risen from the dead. Christ must be explicit in all our God-talk. It will not do, in this day of pluralism, to talk about the glory of God in vague ways. God without Christ is no God. God-in-Christ is the only true God and the only path to joy. If we would see and savor the glory of God, we must see and savor Christ (emphasis added).

So, let’s take up this challenge with all the resolve and courage the Holy Spirit is ready to inspire within us and pour out over us. Together, let’s begin by praying for the whole Church to become wholly alive to the whole vision of the whole Christ.

Let’s repent before the Lord Jesus that he is not our first love, that he is not the consuming passion and focus of our individual lives nor our churches.

In conclusion, consider acting on at least one of three practical, life-changing next steps:

(1) Consider taking a journey through The Christ Institutes Video Series. There are three approaches offered, one of which I’m sure will fit your lifestyle. All nine sessions reintroduce you to the wonders and workings of God’s Son today. “Faith comes by hearing when what is heard is the message about the Christ” (Romans 10:17).

(2) When you’re on the road, listen to one of my brief Podcasts as I share with you exciting dimensions of the whole vision of the whole Christ.

(3) On the home page of ChristNow.com, scroll down to my two short videos—one is all about the crisis itself; the second provides a short introduction to what the “supremacy of Christ” means and what it brings to your walk with him.

The crisis is real. It is upon us and among us. We must act. We must not delay.

Why not be among those who start moving in a new direction TODAY!

 

About the Author

Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and to Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com.

 

 

 

Simple Truth for Today: God Allows Do-Overs

If God allows do-overs, what would you choose to "do-over?" Here are some suggestions:

If God truly allows do-overs, what would you choose to “do over?” What daily actions or positive attitudes would you take to move your life forward?

This is the day the Lord  has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24,NKJV).

Ann Landers often quoted the poem “Just for Today,” a piece attributed to Kenneth Holmes. Others such as Narcotic Anonymous have used that same poem as motivation to choose “do-overs”: daily positive actions for their lives in rehabilitation.

One day as I was journaling, I jotted down my own version of “Just for Today” actions:

This Day (My List of Do-overs)

  • I will not analyze my life or my emotions.
  • I will not condemn myself for inactivity or incompletion.
  • I will not grow weary of doing good.
  • I will give myself to every assignment with smiles and purpose.
  • I will trust God to bring reward of simple tasks.
  • I will not worry if I am doing enough, being enough, or if I have enough.
  • I will love God and others and seek to put them first before my own needs.
  • I will ask God for wisdom for every decision, great or small.
  • I will pay attention to interruptions and the Spirit’s nudging.
  • I will ask for His Spirit’s filling and enjoy it when He does–and by faith walk in it.
  • I will reject every non-productive, damaging, or hurtful thought–preferring that which is honorable, true, good, wholesome, and loving.
  • I will lean hard on the Lord for understanding, trusting Him to direct my paths.
  • I will expect, look for, and anticipate the Lord’s direction, answers, and wisdom.
  • I will celebrate every moment as a precious gift, holding those things which God has given me loosely in my hands–because they all belong to Him.

When I started journaling that day, my body was tired and begging for sleep, but my Spirit craved God’s fellowship. The latter was the greater longing. By the time I had finished writing and reading God’s thoughts to me from His Word, I felt refreshed, renewed, hopeful, expectant, joyful, prepared, and eager to begin the day.

“Plain” suddenly turned to “divine,” and His purpose for me for that day grew clear: to leave heaven’s imprint on that day and to see God’s fingerprints in everything, to know Him and to make Him known, and to add His beauty in big and simple tasks.

Was I successful in my plan for do-overs that day? In my own strength, never. But it gave a clear picture of where I wanted to go. They were simple affirmations and desires of my heart.

We All Struggle

We all experience days and seasons when we fight a battle of the “wills.” I do. Some days we may struggle to get moving and our “gratitude” list shrinks, while our complaint list grows. But when we approach life one day at a time, even listing only one “I will,” God will do His part to meet us where we are. We will not accomplish anything by sheer “will” power, but only through God’s power working through us.

Begin and Depend

Check out the Psalms, and all the “I will’s” that the psalmist David wrote. The first step is to begin–and then depend (on the Lord).

This is the day the Lord has made. I choose (I will) be glad in it! This day…what would you like to do or not do through God’s power working in you?

My Personal Prayer for You

Lord, we all want second chances to do some things right. Thank You for allowing us do-overs in certain attitudes and actions that can help shape ours and others’ lives. Help us to take one day at a time, to be grateful even with small progress, and to lean hard on You for success. Through Your power, and by Your might, we can find the strength and purpose needed to move forward.

Day-votedly Yours,

Rebecca

What About You?

What about you? What would you put on your “I will” list? What do-overs would you list?

Share with Others

Using the share buttons, feel free to share about my website or this blog post with others on social media circles so we can work together in encouraging others toward intimacy with God. And if you haven’t signed up for my weekly posts and newsletter updates, I hope you’ll do so soon. I think you’ll enjoy the complimentary ebook that you’ll receive when you sign up. If you are visual, like me, you can also join me and follow my boards on Pinterest.

Simple Words to Live By

Simple words and phrases. Simple life and places. Life can seem so complex at times. Is it even possible to simplify? Don’t we all want a little more simplicity in our lives? If that’s your desire, here’s a place to start with a few simple words to live by:

simple words to live by

Simple Scriptures to Remember

Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well (Matthew 6:33, NCV)

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21, NASB).

My Personal Prayer for You

Lord Jesus, “simple” is not a word that slips off our tongues easily. We all like the idea of simplicity. But most of us don’t know how to incorporate it into our daily lives. Help us to live simply by trusting You more and adjusting our lives, if necessary, to reflect Your values. Your mission, Your purpose, Your life was simple, and You lived in simple obedience to Your Heavenly Father. Show us what to let go of and what to embrace, so we can follow Your example better. And teach us how to simply love You and others more.

Day-votedly Yours,

Rebecca

* Here’s another blog post I wrote that might encourage you: Ten Simple Ways to Add Balance to Your Days.

“Simple Words to Live By” first appeared in 2013.

What About You? What Are Your Simple Words to Live By?

What simple words would you like to live by? How do you define simple living?

Share with Others

Using the share buttons, feel free to share about my website or this blog post with others on social media circles so we can work together in encouraging others toward intimacy with God. And if you haven’t signed up for my posts and newsletter updates, I hope you’ll do so soon. I think you’ll enjoy the complimentary ebook that you’ll receive when you sign up. If you are visual, like me, you can also join me and follow my boards on Pinterest.

 

 

 

bible reading

 

The Sabbath has a bad reputation, and one it doesn’t deserve. Most Christians tend to think of this day in terms of what they’re prohibited from doing, dreading for what should be a day of peace and fellowship with God.

Genesis 2:2-3 tells us that, “…on the seventh day God finished his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it; because that in it he rested from all his work which God had created and made.” Later, in Leviticus, God established the day as a “day of Sabbath rest, a day of sacred assembly.”

Over the years, the Israelites took the Sabbath from being a time of rest and worship to being a set of needlessly complicated, legalistic rules. But when Christ came onto the scene, He changed things. He and His disciples picked grain on the Sabbath in Matthew 12, despite the protestations of the religious leaders of the time. Christ was more focused on doing good during the Sabbath than obeying a set of rules, saying that “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” This is a day meant to make life better, not more difficult.

But confusion over the Sabbath persists—while the edicts God laid down still apply, they’re widely misunderstood. To help clear up the nature of this holy day, let’s look at what you shouldn’t do on the Sabbath, as well as a few surprising things you can.

 

You Shouldn’t Go to Work

Avoiding work is the most well-known aspect of the Sabbath for most Christians, but it’s also one of the most misunderstood.

Old Testament law forbade working, but Christ showed us that the definition of “work” is a bit different than you might think.

Many believe that it’s a sin to do anything on the Sabbath, but Christ’s activity on this day was nearly always activity rather than rest. The important thing to note, however, is that Jesus didn’t go out on the Sabbath for personal, money-making ventures—He went out to do good, to provide for people’s basic needs, and to spread His teachings.

And so, on the Sabbath, it’s not a sin to work if you need the money to survive. It’s not a sin to cook or clean as necessary, or to go out and do charitable deeds.

The Sabbath is mean to be a day of rest from normal work—the kind of work we often find ourselves in as we scramble for money, power, and prestige. It’s a day, rather, to take a break and focus on the truly important things, like God and family.

 

You Can Party For God

While going head up to the office for some overtime hours may be a Sabbath no-no, having a party is just fine!

We’re not talking the kind of party where hedonism is the main attraction—this is a celebration of God and fellowship—a day of fun that’s focused on enjoying the people and things which God has surrounded us with.

Leviticus 23:3 mentions that the Sabbath is a great time for holy gatherings. This doesn’t have to just mean church—a “holy gathering” could be a great group of friends or family sharing a mean together, having a great time, and talking about their spiritual lives.

Remember—when Christ was asked what the most important of God’s commandments, He replied, “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. The second is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”

Love God, love one another, and have a good time doing it. There’s no reason not to have a party on the Sabbath.

 

You Shouldn’t Mow the Lawn

For-profit work isn’t the only kind of labor you should be avoiding on the Sabbath. Deuteronomy 5:14 implies that even yard work is out of bounds.

While this seems restrictive, think on Christ’s words when He claimed that the Sabbath is for our good. It’s a day of rest and holy reflection. This isn’t truly a restriction—it’s freedom.

When we’re constantly busy, it’s easy to lose track of the things that are really important. We become so focused on our do-do lists that we fail to pay attention to the bigger, more important issues of life.

But the Sabbath allows us the chance to refocus. When we don’t have to worry about mowing the lawn, washing the car, or doing any number of the non-essential tasks we fill our lives with, our minds can wander. We can think about God’s overall plan for our lives. We can connect with family.

We can figure out if all of these activities that keep us busy are even making us happy in the first place.

Don’t worry about the lawn on the Sabbath. You’ve got bigger things to think about on this special day of the week.

 

You Can Laze Around the House

Did you know that the Sabbath is the perfect time to stay in all day and be lazy?

Many Christians may recoil at the word “lazy” here, but there’s a big difference between the sin of sloth and the joys of peaceful rest. God knows that we, as limited human beings, need a break, both physically and mentally. It’s all too easy to get into the rut of constant busy-work, never stopping to attend to our own mental, physical, and spiritual health.

God is good for us, whether we’re worshiping, praying, or studying scripture—this is why Christ said that the Sabbath was made for us. It’s our chance to relax enough to experience the kind of peace only God can bring.

It’s okay to make that cup of tea or coffee and wrap up in a blanket on the Sabbath. It’s fine to just go sit in the woods and listen to the birds and insects. It’s even acceptable to take a trip to the beach to lay on a towel and just think.

Rest is how we quiet the mind and listen to God. Take advantage of the Sabbath—it’s your chance to rest, and through that rest, find spiritual peace.

 

You Shouldn’t Hire Someone to Do Work For You

The commands regarding the Sabbath don’t just extend to us—they extend to those who those we hire, as well. Just because you shouldn’t cut your grass on the Sabbath doesn’t mean you can simply hire someone else to do it for you. In Exodus, 20:10, God speaks out against this potential workaround.

Why would He command this? Because hiring someone to do the work you’d normally do on the Sabbath—or even hiring someone to perform a service like a massage or manicure—goes against the spirit of the day.

As Christians, we should be ambassadors for God, encouraging others to get to know Him and His church. When we keep the Sabbath holy by refraining from normal work, but hire someone else to do that work for us, we display the kind of hypocrisy that drives people away from God.

So give your gardener, pool guy, or masseuse a break, and promote peaceful rest on the Sabbath.

 

You Can Unplug From the World

And now we come to what is possibly the very best thing you can do on the Sabbath—you can unplug from the world.

This means that you can turn off the news. You can log off of your social media accounts. You can withdraw into the comfort and seclusion of your home.

This is important. More than ever, we’re connected to all of the bad news coming in from all over the world. And believe it or not, this has an effect on you, causing stress, anxiety, and depression.

But if you take the Sabbath for what it is—a gift of peace, rest, and spiritual renewal—you’ll find respite from this never-ending flow of negativity.

In the end, this is what the Sabbath is all about: disconnecting from your normal, everyday life and reconnecting with the grand, overarching grandeur of God.

That’s why the Sabbath is a day to which you can look forward.

 

It’s Not Really About Rules and Regulations

We’ve been talking about things you should and shouldn’t do on the Sabbath, but these admonitions can only take you so far. In the end, this day isn’t about legalism. It isn’t about what you can and cannot do—that’s not the best way to think about it.

Instead, consider the Sabbath for what it is—a gift. It’s your chance to enjoy your relationship with Him, and to have a day of peace. Treat it this way, and you won’t have to worry about lists of dos and don’ts.

 

 

 

What Jesus Did! ‘Don’t Be Sad; Better Things Are Ahead’ — John 16:5-7

[Jesus said,] “But now I am going away to the one who sent me, and not one of you is asking where I am going. Instead, you grieve because of what I’ve told you. But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.”

Key Thought

I can’t imagine how the disciples felt or what they understood when Jesus talked about going away. He did all he could to help his disciples be prepared for his departure even though he was facing rejection, torture, and death. Jesus loved his disciples to the end! His great assurance over and over again in his farewell visit and prayer with his disciples (John 13-17) was that when he went away, they would not be left alone. The Holy Spirit (the Advocate/Comforter/Counselor/Helper) would come to them. Jesus would send the Spirit to them, and they would do amazing things in Jesus’ name. He wouldn’t be gone, just present in a different way. That Holy Presence is also for us today as well!

Today’s Prayer

Father, thank you for your abiding presence in my life through the Holy Spirit. I am so thankful that Jesus’ presence wasn’t confined to just his earthly ministry, but that he has come to live inside my heart through the Holy Spirit. Please know that the Spirit is welcome in my heart to mend, purify, convict, correct, empower, and motivate me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

Passion for Praise: ‘God is Good!’

Illustration of Psalm 73:1 NLT — Truly God is good ... to those whose hearts are pure.

 

A Year with Jesus: ‘Antidote to Uncertainty: Thankfulness’

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of Grace,

You have been blessed with grace because of the Father’s love (John 3:16-18Colossians 1:12-14). That grace was embodied by My coming to earth in human flesh, My life of service, My atoning death on the Cross, and My victorious resurrection (Colossians 1:15-23) and continues to be yours through the Holy Spirit that has been given to you (Ephesians 1:13-14). You shared in this grace through your baptism because of your faith (Colossians 2:9-15). Your future in glory is secure in Me as I reign over all things (Colossians 3:1-4Ephesians 1:18-22). So rejoice! Be thankful! Praise your Father in heaven for His bountiful grace that has brought you to a life full of love, hope, and peace in Me!

The Colossian Christians had forgotten the importance of being thankful. So in his short letter to them, Paul began by giving thanks for them. He called on them repeatedly to be thankful. As important as prayer was to Paul, he reminded these Colossian brothers and sisters to always “be thankful when you pray.” In fact, Paul wanted all of their lives to be lived “sending thanks” in My name to the Father!

So why is thankfulness so important? There are many reasons. Thankfulness reminds you that you receive all your blessings from the Father. Thankfulness reminds you of all that you have been given so you are not constantly greedy for more. For the Colossians, however, thankfulness had an added purpose. This purpose can also apply to you. False teachers slip into My people like wolves disguised as sheep. Their smooth sounding words and their claim to special knowledge can create an itch of concern in the hearts of My people who can become uncertain because they are concerned that they may have missed something important. They can be enticed by new teaching that sounds special and especially spiritual. On the other hand, thankfulness roots you in the things you have received from the Father through My death, burial, and resurrection. Thankfulness reminds you that life’s most important grace, My sacrifice for you, is sufficient to bring you to My glory. As Paul warned the Galatians, anything added to the simple gospel about Me is not gospel; it is false teaching and must be opposed (Galatians 1:6-9). Paul wanted the Christian brothers and sisters to follow this important exhortation about thankfulness:

Let your roots grow down deeply in Him, and let Him build you up on a firm foundation. Be strong in the faith, just as you were taught, and always spill over with thankfulness.
(Colossians 2:7)

So, dear child of My Father, give thanks! Praise God for what you have received. Be filled to overflowing with thanksgiving because you have received grace and the assurance that life ahead of you will be glorious!

Verses to Live

The following verses are the thread of thankfulness that Paul wove into the tapestry of his letter to the Colossians. Read these verses several times. Pause after each section and ask the Holy Spirit to help you receive, incorporate, and display the principles you find in that section. Be blessed! Most of all, learn the grace of being thankful!

As always, we’ve been praying for you, thanking God, the Father of our Lord Jesus the Anointed, ever since we heard of your faith in Jesus the Anointed and your love for His holy ones — faith and love that emerge from the hope you have heard about in the word of truth — the gospel — the very hope that awaits you in heaven.
(Colossians 1:3-5)

Since the day we got this good news about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We ask:

Father, may they clearly know Your will and achieve the height and depth of spiritual wisdom and understanding. May their lives be a credit to You, Lord; and what’s more, may they continue to delight You by doing every good work and growing in the true knowledge that comes from being close to You. Strengthen them with Your infinite power, according to Your glorious might, so that they will have everything they need to hold on and endure hardship patiently and joyfully. Thank You, Father, as You have made us eligible to receive our portion of the inheritance given to all those set apart by the light. You have rescued us from dark powers and brought us safely into the kingdom of Your Son, Whom You love and in Whom we are redeemed and forgiven of our sins [through His blood].

(Colossians 1:9-14)

Now that you have welcomed the Anointed One, Jesus the Lord, into your lives, continue to journey with Him and allow Him to shape your lives. Let your roots grow down deeply in Him, and let Him build you up on a firm foundation. Be strong in the faith, just as you were taught, and always spill over with thankfulness.
(Colossians 2:6-7)

Since you are all set apart by God, made holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a holy way of life: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Put up with one another. Forgive. Pardon any offenses against one another, as the Lord has pardoned you, because you should act in kind. But above all these, put on love! Love is the perfect tie to bind these together. Let your hearts fall under the rule of the Anointed’s peace (the peace you were called to as one body), and be thankful.

Let the word of the Anointed One richly inhabit your lives. With all wisdom teach, counsel, and instruct one another. Sing the psalms, compose hymns and songs inspired by the Spirit, and keep on singing — sing to God from hearts full and spilling over with thankfulness. Surely, no matter what you are doing (speaking, writing, or working), do it all in the name of Jesus our Master, sending thanks through Him to God our Father.
(Colossians 3:12-17)

Pray, and keep praying. Be alert and thankful when you pray. And while you are at it, add us to your prayers. Pray that God would open doors and windows and minds and eyes and hearts for the word so we can go on telling the mystery of the Anointed, for this is exactly why I am currently imprisoned. Pray that I will proclaim this message clearly and fearlessly as I should.
(Colossians 4:2-4).


Emphasis added by placing the words related to thankfulness in bold.


Response in Prayer

O Father of grace and God of glory, thank You! Thank You for the vastness of the universe. Thank You for the mysteries and beauty of this earth. Thank You most of all for grace through the gift of Your Son, Jesus. Thank You for your enduring and transforming presence through the Holy Spirit. Thank You that I will one day see you face-to-face in all of Your glory. Thank you! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

Charisma Daily Devotionals

 

 

Loving God

These are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel. —Acts 2:15-16, NKJV

The Joel 2 prophecies concerning the outpouring of the Holy Spirit are partially fulfilled in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. But just because the outpouring at Pentecost was “what was spoken by the prophet Joel” doesn’t mean that was all of the outpouring. The Spirit fell on one hundred twenty people in a small room in Jerusalem. That’s not big enough for the complete fulfillment—even if you include the three thousand who were converted and baptized that day. I am convinced that the fullness of Joel 2 is yet to be seen. The greatest and fullest manifestation of the kingdom of God—the Day of the Lord, the restoration of all things, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit—is reserved for the consummation of all things at the end of the age. I believe there will be an unprecedented revival in which all believers will experience dreams, visions, and everything Joel prophesied just before the Second Coming of Christ.

{ PRAYER STARTER }

Father, I long for the fulfillment of Your prophetic word to pour Your Spirit out upon this world. I wait eagerly for revival to fill our land and for Your people to experience dreams and visions from You.

The prophecy will have a worldwide scope
to it where all flesh—that is, all believers,
not just prophets—will have
dreams and see visions.

 

By Love Transformed

Discovering God for Yourself

May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land … —Genesis 28:3-4

Do you remember the time when you discovered God for yourself? I don’t necessarily mean remembering the time and place where you were converted, but remembering the intense power of that experience. There’s nothing like discovering God so powerfully for yourself that if every other person in the world renounces their faith, and you were the only believer left, you would still trust Him.

Jacob had been so dependent on his parents, especially upon his mother; he had never wandered far from home. He was not like Esau, who was a man of the fields. Jacob had never done anything like this before, so he must have been afraid.

Here was a man scared to death, having to leave home because his brother wanted to kill him. Perhaps you are away from home. You’ve been thrust out and are wondering what life is all about and what is happening to you. Yet, perhaps God has set this up so you may learn to know Him and to discover Him for yourself for the first time.

At this time in Jacob’s life, if he had any relationship with God at all, it was secondhand. Are you like Jacob? Is your religion secondhand? Maybe you were spoon-fed something from your parents or from your grandparents and have a long Christian background.

Could it be that you are wrestling with the question, does God exist? “If He does,” you may say, “He certainly wouldn’t like me because of all the wicked things I have done.”

Jesus died for those who have a guilty conscience, who know they don’t deserve anything good. The only way you can come to know God is to recognize you are a sinner and repent and ask God for mercy. Perhaps you were never willing to hear the gospel before, but God has you in such a state you are hemmed in and willing to listen now. God may have brought events to such a situation where all you can do is just see His mercy.

Excerpted from All’s Well That Ends Well (Authentic Media, 2005).

 

Daily Breakthroughs

Waiting

And he [Jesus] must needs go through Samaria-.-.-.-being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well. —John 4:4,6

These verses don’t say Jesus just happened to go through Samaria, or that Samaria was on His way. In fact, it was out of the way for Him to go through Samaria. Jesus went there and waited, knowing the Samaritan woman would soon arrive.

Sometimes it may seem as if your family is going through the greatest trial of your lives, but you are right on time. God is just getting your family to Samaria. You may not know where your fourteen-year-old is, or your sixteen-year-old may be on crack, but don’t fear. Jesus is waiting at the well.

I wanted to be a trial attorney and was on my way with a basketball scholarship when I blew my left knee out of joint-.-.-.-and my scholarship out the window. In the ashes of that brokenness, God said, “You are right on time. I just have to get you to a cornfield in Columbus, Ohio. I want you to plant a church there.”

So don’t worry over your children. They don’t have to find God. He knows where they are, and He is waiting for them to arrive.

Lord, I will go wherever You lead. Through
whatever terrain or wilderness,
I will follow You. Amen.

 

Spirit Led Woman's Power Up Logo

(Photo by Nico Melgarejo on Unsplash)

Worship is the beginning of prayer. It is the first step, the starting point. Consider the fact that almost all man-made ideas for prayer or quiet times begin with worship, such as one of the more popular, ACTS: adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication. Yet of far more importance is the fact that the King of the universe began His model prayer with worship: “Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name” (Matt. 6:9b, Luke 11:2b).

The word for worship in the New Testament is proskyneo. It means “to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence.” Worship is blowing kisses to God. It is an act of love, and it is a response to love.

Stop right now and ask yourself this question: How do you view God? How you view will determine how you approach Him in prayer. There are many people who do not view God the Father in a positive light. They may have had a dysfunctional relationship with their earthly fathers. For me, the revelation that God is my Father had life-changing impact. While I was growing up, my family had intimacy issues. My parents loved me deeply but struggled to express it. The result—I have had intimacy issues. But in recent years, I have experienced a profound spiritual restoration and physical healing that leaves me convinced I have a good and kind heavenly Father. Maybe that seems a little elementary to you, but God’s role as Father is the most profound aspect of His person to me. As my heavenly Father, He is pure and holy, and I am convinced He is good. He is worthy of all my worship.

Understanding the Father’s character is essential if we are to love and worship Him and enter into prayer with a pure heart. And that is what God is after. He is seeking true worshippers (John 4:23), Jesus taught us that we must begin with worship and adoration (Matt. 6:9). He taught us this because what comes natural for most of us is asking for “stuff,” We don’t have to train children to ask for things; it comes naturally

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Before we ever pray for anything, we need to meet the Lord in worship. For us to pray rightly according to His will, we must come to a place in worship where we yield to the majesty and sovereignty of our Father. In the place of worship is where we find freedom form our selfishness. There is a monumental difference between approaching prayer with our own agenda in mind (no matter how righteous it may seem) and waiting on God to know what is on His mind. This is the prayer of discernment, of indifference to personal desires. It simply says, “Not my will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42b). Jesus demonstrated to the disciples that after they worshipped the Father, “hallowed be Your name,” they would be able to proclaim, “Your kingdom come; Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:9b-10).

We need to remind ourselves that what we call the Lord’s Prayer isn’t really the Lord’s prayer—it is the disciples’ prayer and our prayer. The disciples were the ones who wanted to be taught to pray. And just as Jesus taught them to begin their prayer with worship, He instructed them to end prayer with worship, He instructed them to end prayer with worship: “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever” (Matt. 6:13).

Jesus taught the disciples and us that in prayer we are to pay homage to the reality that this is His kingdom. God has control over everything, and He can and will answer our prayers. He has infinite power to accomplish whatever we ask. There is nothing impossible with God (Luke 1:37).

All worship and praise are due our God for His mighty and wondrous works. As citizens of His kingdom we will worship Him forever. When, by the revelation of the Spirit of God, we understand that His kingdom, power, and glory are forever, what other response can we give but to worship Him? God Himself, His character, and all that He accomplishes on the earth are worthy of all glory. All that He is reverberates throughout eternity.

Jesus wants each one of us, personally and intimately, to understand and appreciate the great mystery of His creation and His kingdom. Once we experience this revelation, there can be no other place to start or end prayer but with worship. Worship and prayer together become the gateway to His presence. 

 

 

 

Tested for Abundance
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
October 14, 2018

“We went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.” Psalm 66:12b

It is nice to hear that God desires to bring us into abundance. In fact, many a preacher has promoted the goodness of the Lord and His ability to prosper His children. Alas, my experience is that this gospel of material abundance has little to do with the gospel of the Kingdom as our Lord works in the realm of the sanctified soul. The passage above tells us that God does in fact bring us into places of abundance. However, upon further study of the entire passage, we learn the route to this abundance.

For you, O God, tested us; You refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but You brought us to a place of abundance (Psalm 66:10-12). God’s economy of abundance often has little to do with material blessing. In God’s economy, abundance is often measured in wisdom and knowledge of Himself. It is then that we are truly blessed. Wisdom cannot be gained through intellectual pursuits. Wisdom comes only through experience. Real wisdom comes from the kinds of experiences that come only through the deepest tests. Lessons of refinement, including prison accompanied by burdens, lead us through the fire and water. This is the territory that must be traveled to reach that place of abundance. It would seem strange that a loving God would use such means with His children. What we often fail to realize is that God’s measuring stick is the character and likeness of Jesus Christ Himself in each of us. This cannot be gained through a life of ease and pleasure. Ease and pleasure fail to refine.

Is God using your workplace to refine you today? Has He placed you in a prison or laid burdens on your back? Take heart if this is the place you find yourself, and realize that if you are faithful through the tests, you will enter a place of abundance that few will ever attain. The darkest hour is just before daybreak.

Serving Kings
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 2 by Os Hillman
October 14, 2018

“Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men” (Proverbs 22:29).

I was sitting in a room of 400 business people from 75 different nations to begin an international conference. After a time of worship, a man stood up and exhorted Christians in the United States to pray for their president. It was a difficult time in our nation because president Bill Clinton was in the midst of a scandal.

The man who challenged us to pray was pastor Romain Zannou from the small African nation of Benin. Romain had earned the right to exhort us. Many years ago, God had given him a burden to pray for his Marxist dictator president, Mathieu Kerekou. For 10 years, he prayed for two hours a day for Kerekou’s salvation and for God to give Kerekou wisdom to lead the nation. One day while he was praying, Romain felt that the Lord had a message for the president. Within 24 hours, he was standing in a room with Kerekou to deliver the word of the Lord.

Though he and Romain had agreed to meet after their first free elections for a time of Bible study, the former president refused to meet with Romain after only a few meetings. Almost every day after that, Romain went to Kerekou’s home, only to be told that Kerekou did not wish to see him. Each day he said, “I will wait,” and stood outside the wall for hours, many times in the rain and heat, in hopes that Kerekou would let him in.

After a year and a half of these unsuccessful visits, the former president finally received him and greeted him with the words, “Pastor Zannou, you are a very persistent man.” They began an in-depth study of the Bible. Through this study of the word of God, the former president received Christ.

Romain Zannou is one of many unknown leaders being used to impact nations through their own workplace calling. They are an unlikely group of people – pastors, flower shop owners, builders, industrialists and even a former golf pro (me).

Be skilled in what you do. You may be standing before a king in the future.

Listening to the Father’s Heart – October 14 
by Os Hillman

Son, I am so pleased that you make time every morning for us to be together one on one. These times allow your soul and spirit to be filled with my peace and my love. The cares of this world can rob you of confidence and joy, but spending these times with me in my word and conversation with me puts your mind at ease. Your soul is quietly, miraculously refreshed. I know you don’t understand how this happens, but my Spirit heals broken places and restores you where you have been injured. “He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” My presence sustains you as you leave your house to enter the battlefield of life. You need not fear anything that will come your way today. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Ps 23:4). I’m with you even when you cannot perceive my presence. Go from our secret place into your day with faith and anticipation.

He restores my soul, He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Psalm 23:3

Cause me to hear your lovingkindness in the morning, for in You do I trust; cause me to know the way in which I should walk, for I lift up my soul to You. Psalms 143:8

 

 

 

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